Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Valentines, Heart and Hands

Valentine’s Day has something to do with love and affection. It also has a lot to do with one of the most insidious of all unhappiness traps: the desire to have love and affection and approval on our own time schedule, which is to say: right now. You remember grade school, we all do: how anxious to get a pile of cards, or at least One Big Special One.

The heart loves to love. It loves to live ( beat, beat; beat, beat); it lives to love. (Sigh, kiss, kiss, hug, hug). It doesn’t even mind being broken, though the mind minds the breaking of the heart. Bad for the old image. Bad for the old myth: everything lasts.

But the heart doesn’t mind a broken heart, because then it gets to be a heart again and just love. Prior to breaking the heart was tricked by the mind into believing that it also had a pair of hands, the better to grasp tightly something that was ungrasp-able, the better to grab onto another person fixed, tight, close, forever.

Doesn’t work. The other person wiggles away – or dies—and the heart is left without any hands, alone and thumping, pumping without complaint, blood and love. The mind, confused, thinks that all is lost, for where is The One on whom it shone its love light? Gone. The wiggled away one is gone and the mind is distraught. What to do with this stream of love? Pretend it doesn’t exist? Turn it upside down inside out into anger and resentment. Channel it into art and a garden. Well, that’s a step in the right direction: give the heart other outlets than The One to love. The heart loves to love, plants, sky, clouds, colors, songs, other people, yes even other people who aren’t The One. What happens if the heart just breaks not only down but free of the mind’s idea of Just Loving The One? It loves Every One. Wow, that’s a happy heart.

And all this fuss about The One leaving, that isn’t always the problem. Often it is that The One has something better to do right now than give us the love we are demanding. We’ve had a hard day. Want to be pampered. But The One has their own problems and doesn’t have any extra love to spare just then. Two choices: feel bad because nothing’s coming our way, or let the heart do what it loves to do: love the One even when the One isn’t being Won-derful.

Ah love, so thrilling and calming all at once, when it’s real, when I can love Marlie’s beauty, grace and humor as well as her occasional grumpiness and worry. She puts up with me. That’s good for me, and good for her, but if I forget how to appreciate myself, too, I’ll get angry when she has something better to do than be thrilled about me.

Loving is fun. Loving on demand is hell. If I demand that Marlie love me in the moments when she’s not feeling that way, I’m driving her away from me and telling her that she’s okay only when she’s giving me what I want. Doesn’t sound like love, does it? That’s when we learn how to love: when our partner is forgetting how to love us. The heart loves to learn, again and again and again, this is love. So easy. Just do it. And forget. And learn. And do it again.

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